LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The nation's first African American winner has breezed to victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde of Harvey, Louisiana, didn't show much stress on stage and only struggled with one word in Thursday's finals.
She is only the second Black champion in the bee's 96-year history after Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998.
Zaila described spelling as a side hobby, though she routinely practiced seven hours daily.
A basketball prodigy, she hopes to play in the WNBA and holds three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously.
Zaila leaped with excitement after spelling the winning word, “Murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.